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Designation: D 1729 96 (Reapproved 2003)

Standard Practice for

Visual Appraisal of Colors and Color Differences of

Diffusely-Illuminated Opaque Materials1
This standard is issued under the fixed designation D 1729; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of
original adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A
superscript epsilon (e) indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.
This standard has been approved for use by agencies of the Department of Defense to replace Method 4249.1 of Federal Test Method
Standard No 141. Consult the DoD Index of Specifications and Standards for the specific year of issue which has been adopted by the
Department of Defense.


The colors of materials depend on the geometric and spectral nature of the illuminating and viewing
conditions. This practice specifies standard conditions for appraising the colors and color differences
of opaque specimens that are diffusely illuminated. Daylight, the natural illuminant, is usually of
primary interest, but natural daylight is highly variable and is not available at night or in interior
rooms, so simulated daylight is generally used. Colors may match under a light source with one
spectral power distribution, but not under another, so the match is usually confirmed under another
very different source. An incandescent lamp of low correlated color temperature has long been used
to detect mismatches likely to appear under yellower phases of daylight or incandescent light.
Industrial color matchers often verify the match with the kind of light likely to be found where the
product is sold or used. Judgments must be made by observers with normal color vision. Even so, there
may be substantial individual differences in judgments.
priate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1. Scope
1.1 This practice specifies the equipment and procedures for
visual appraisal of the colors and color differences of opaque
materials that are diffusely illuminated. These specification are
of critical importance in color matching. This practice requires
judgments by observers with normal color vision.
1.2 Critical visual appraisal of colors and color differences
of materials such as metallic and pearlescent paints requires
illumination that is nearly a geometric simulation of sunlight,
because such directional illumination permits observation of
the glitter and goniochromatism that characterize such materials. Such viewing conditions are beyond the scope of this
1.3 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the
standard. The values given in parentheses are for information
1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the
safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the
responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appro-

2. Referenced Documents
2.1 ASTM Standards: 2
D 523 Test Method for Specular Gloss
D 1535 Practice for Specifying Color by the Munsell System
D 4086 Practice for Visual Evaluation of Metamerism
D 5531 Guide for the Preparation, Maintenance, and Distribution of Physical Product Standards for Color and Geometric Appearance of Coatings
E 284 Terminology of Appearance
E 308 Practice for Computing the Colors of Objects by
Using the CIE System
E 1164 Practice for Obtaining Spectrophotometric Data for
Object-Color Evaluation
E 1499 Guide to the Selection, Evaluation, and Training of
For referenced ASTM standards, visit the ASTM website,, or
contact ASTM Customer Service at For Annual Book of ASTM
Standards volume information, refer to the standards Document Summary page on
the ASTM website.

This practice is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee E12 on Color and
Appearance and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee E12.11 on Visual
Current edition approved Dec. 1, 2003. Published December 2003. Originally
approved in 1960. Last previous edition approved in 1996 as D 1729 96.

Copyright ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, United States.

D 1729 96 (2003)
2.2 ISO/CIE Standard:3
10526 CIE Standard Colorimetric Illuminants (1991)3 Daylight illumination shall be a spectral simulation

of daylight of one or more of the following three kinds:
overcast northern sky light, designated CIE Illuminant D75;
average daylight, designated CIE Illuminant D65; or, for
applications involving color photography or color printing,
CIE Illuminant D50. The spectra of these illuminants are
specified in Practice E 308 and CIE Publication 15.2.4 The
quality of the simulation of daylight shall be assessed by the
method specified in the latest revision of CIE Publication 515
(under revision in 1996). For critical appraisal of colors and
color differences, the category determined by that method shall
be BC(CIELAB) or better. This rating ensures that the source
provides ultraviolet and visible power in the right proportions
to make both nonfluorescent and fluorescent materials look
very nearly the way they would in the corresponding phase of
natural daylight. Users of this practice should be aware of the
fact that neither correlated color temperature nor chromaticity
alone qualifies simulated daylight for this purpose. Incandescent illumination shall have the spectral
quality of the light from an incandescent lamp commonly used
for home and business lighting, approximately simulating CIE
Illuminant A, specified in Practice E 308 and ISO/CIE 10526. Incandescent illumination of low correlated color
temperature shall have spectral quality similar to that of a
Planckian radiator having a color temperature of 2300 K. This
light is commonly produced by incandescent lamps operated at
half their rated voltage.6 Fluorescent lamps are often provided. Those most
often used are of the type known as cool white approximately simulated by CIE Illuminant F2, and the type known as
three-band approximately simulated by CIE Illuminant F11.
The spectra of these illuminants are specified in Practice E 308
and ISO/CIE 10526. One or several of these kinds of illumination, or
other kinds, as specified, may be provided in a luminaire or
viewing booth. Provision must be made for selecting any one
of the sources independently.
6.1.2 Photometric ConditionsFor critical evaluation of
color differences of materials of medium lightness, the illumination at the center of the viewed area shall be 1080 to 1340 lx
(100 to 125 fc). For general evaluation of materials of medium
lightness, the illumination shall be between 810 and 1880 lx
(75 and 175 fc). In either case, for viewing very light materials,
the illumination may be as low as 540 lx (50 fc), and for
viewing very dark materials it may be as high as 2150 lx (200
fc). This higher level of illumination is usually obtained by
holding the specimens nearer the source.
6.1.3 Geometric ConditionsThe illumination shall be provided by an extended-area source located above the specimens
and shall be sufficiently directional to reveal the texture of

3. Terminology
3.1 For definitions of appearance terms used in this practice,
refer to Terminology E 284.
4. Significance and Use
4.1 Although color measuring instruments are widely used,
color matches are usually checked visually. The standardization of visual examination has greatly improved the uniformity
of products and the accuracy of color matches.
4.2 The use of this practice is essential for critical color
matching but is also recommended for any color appraisal,
such as the choice or approval of a color. This practice is
widely used in industry to choose colors, exhibit colors
reproducibly, inspect incoming materials, monitor color producing processes, and inspect finished goods. Visual appraisal
is particularly important when the product inspected is not of
the same material as the color standard to which it is compared.
4.2.1 ObserversThis practice is based on the fundamental
assumption that the observer has normal color vision and is
trained and experienced in observing and classifying color
differences. The significance of the results depends on that
being so. The selection, evaluation, and training of observers
are treated in Guide E 1499.
4.2.2 IlluminationSimulated average daylight is recommended by the International Commission on Illumination
(CIE), but a slightly bluer simulated north-sky daylight came
into widespread use in North America, because it provides a
slightly greater distinction between very pale yellow and white,
a distinction of great commercial importance.
5. Observers
5.1 The validity of the results obtained by this practice
depends on visual judgments by an observer or observers with
normal color vision. Even among normal observers, there may
be substantial individual variations. Color specifications dependent on this practice may require averaging the results
obtained by a specified number of observers. The nature of an
observers color vision can be ascertained by visual tests.
Observers should be tested periodically, because an individuals color vision can change (see Guide E 1499).
6. Apparatus
6.1 The apparatus shall consist of luminaires, specimen
table, surround, and ambient field having the following spectral, photometric, and geometric characteristics:
6.1.1 Spectral Power DistributionThe spectral power distribution of the radiant flux incident on the specimens depends
not only on the source used, but on the nature of any diffuser
employed and any reflecting surfaces, including those in the
ambient field, that reflect flux to the specimens.

CIE Publication 15.2, Colorimetry, 2nd ed., Central Bureau of the CIE, Vienna,
1986 (see footnote 3).
CIE Publication 51, A Method for Assessing the Quality of Daylight Simulators
for Colorimetry, Central Bureau of the CIE, Vienna, 1981 (see footnote 3).
The equations describing Planckian radiators and tables of their distributions
can be found in Wyszecki, G., and Stiles, W. S., Color Science Concepts and
Methods, Quantitative Data and Formulae, 2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New
York, NY, 1982.

Available from The U.S. National Committee of the CIE (International
Commission on Illumination), C/o Thomas M. Lemons, TLA-Lighting Consultants,
Inc., 7 Pond St., Salem, MA 01970.

D 1729 96 (2003)
7.2 The preferred size of specimens is approximately 90 by
165 mm (312 by 612 in.). If smaller sizes are used, the precision
may be reduced.

specimens. The illuminance shall be uniform over the viewing

area, within 620 %, with no abrupt changes apparent to the
6.1.4 Surround and Ambient FieldThe surround, the portion of the visual field immediately surrounding the specimens,
shall be the color having the Munsell notation given in Table 1
for the evaluation category involved. The ambient visual field,
the field of view seen when the observer glances away from the
specimens, such as the interior surfaces of a viewing booth or
the nearby walls of a viewing room, shall be the color having
the Munsell notation given in Table 1 for the evaluation
category involved. The gloss of the surround and the ambient field shall
be no greater than 15 on the 60 gloss scale described in Test
Method D 523. When glossy or highly saturated specimens are
compared, it is important to avoid observing light specularly
reflected by them. Black velvet or other matte black material
should be placed in the ambient field, so its dark image is
reflected by the specimens.
6.2 Availability of Apparatus:
6.2.1 Equipment meeting the requirements of this practice is
commercially available. The most important requirement,
which is of particular importance for daylight simulators, is the
spectral power distribution of the illumination.
6.2.2 Commercially available illumination meters may be
used to measure the photometric conditions.
6.2.3 Paint for the surround and the ambient field may be
specified by the Munsell notations given in Table 1.
6.2.4 Commercially available spectroradiometers may be
used to measure the spectral power distributions and the CIE
method of computation may be accomplished with a personal
6.3 Maintenance of ApparatusLamps and other apparatus
must be maintained. At least once during each 100 h of use,
check the apparatus in the following way:
6.3.1 Replace darkened or burned-out lamps and be sure
that all lamps are operating.
6.3.2 Clean the fixtures so dust or films deposited from the
atmosphere do not alter the spectral power distributions.
6.3.3 Measure and record illumination levels.

8. Procedure
8.1 Illumination and ViewingPlace the materials on a
table or the bottom of a viewing booth at the distance from the
illuminator required to obtain the specified illuminance. The
materials should be placed in the same plane, in edge contact,
against the appropriate surround material. The specimens
should be viewed at a distance of 450 to 600 mm (18 to 24 in.).
8.2 When viewing a glossy surface, it is necessary to avoid
seeing the light source specularly reflected by the surface. This
may be accomplished by illuminating along the normal to the
surface and viewing at 45C to the normal or illuminating at
45 and viewing along the normal (see
8.3 Matte specimens should be viewed along their normal
(directly facing the observer) while illuminated at approximately 45 to the normal.
8.4 Some kinds of specimens present different colors when
the illuminating and viewing geometry are changed. To detect
this effect, each type of specimen should be examined while
varying the viewing angle over a wide range. If this effect is
present and a good color match is required, the specimens must
match over this wide range of angles. The specimens must be
held in the same plane, as that plane is varied relative to the
source and observer.
8.5 A very small color difference of a yellow-blue kind (as
opposed to a red-green kind), such as that involved in judging
the yellowness of nearly white materials, may be perceived
more readily if the two specimens are visually separated by a
very fine black line, such as a black thread.
8.6 Light SourcesIf otherwise identical specimens have
identical reflection and fluorescence spectra, they will match
under any light source. Often the spectra are not the same and
a match under one light source does not ensure a match under
others. This phenomenon is called metamerism (see Terminology E 284). To test for metamerism, specimens are usually
compared under daylight and at least one other source. The
other source may be an incandescent lamp or other source
likely to be found where the material is sold or used. The
sources to be used are often specified in purchase agreements
(see Practice D 4086).
8.7 Evaluation of Color DifferenceObserve color difference components of hue, lightness (or value), and saturation (or
chroma), with an indication of the order of prominence of these
components. For example, it might be noted that a red
specimen is moderately yellower, slightly darker, and very
slightly less saturated than the given standard. For critical
evaluation, interchange the materials and repeat the evaluation.
More precise methodology is described in Practice D 1535.

7. Preparation of Specimens
7.1 Specimen preparation, if any, should be fully described
in the specification for the material or reference shall be made
to a standard method of preparation. Specimens should be
planar, uniform in color and gloss, clean, free of defects, and
representative of the batch. For maximum precision in color
difference evaluation, the specimens should have the same
gloss and texture. This fact should be considered in adopting a
physical color standard to be matched (see Guide D 5531 and
Practice E 1164).

9. Report
9.1 Report the following information:
9.1.1 Lighting equipment, the CIE Category, if known, and
the illuminance for each light used,
9.1.2 Category of evaluation, general or critical,
9.1.3 Identification of materials compared and a description
of their gloss and surface characteristics,

TABLE 1 Color of Surround and Ambient FieldA


Color of
similar to standard
N 5 to N 7

Color of
Ambient Field
N 6 to N 7
N 6 to N 7

Maximum Munsell
Chroma of Neutrals

See Practice D 1535.

D 1729 96 (2003)
9.1.4 Observed direction and magnitude of each of the three
components of color difference (from one material taken as the
standard) for each illumination and viewing angle used, and
9.1.5 The identity of observers by name or code.

10. Keywords
10.1 color; color difference; color matching; lighting; viewing conditions; visual examinationcolor; visual
examinationcolor difference

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